I was able to take 4 days off over Christmas (2 days before, day of, and day after Christmas). I spent that time with my wife and kids at an isolated resort on the northwest coast of Costa Rica.
During our family trip, I decided I needed to try a “digital detox.” So as soon as we arrived, I put my phone and iPad in our room safe and didn’t look at any digital devices during our four day trip.
Being without a phone or iPad/laptop was a positive experience. At the same time, it was also a strange experience. I learned a lot. It is definitely something I recommend people try from time to time, even if just for a day over the weekend. It is definitely something I will be doing again during breaks and downtime in the future.
Here are a few observations from 4 days of no technology:
- The first day was easy, although I found myself repeatedly reaching for my phone even though it wasn’t available. I am clearly “addicted” to my technology devices.
- The second day was even better. I stopped thinking so much about reaching for my phone or iPad. To fill the time, I actually read books! Real books. I also wrote a lot in a paper journal. I even practiced my drawing, which was fun. And I noticed that when we were at lunch or dinner, or just hanging out, I was more “present” with my family than I am when I’m busy at work (which is almost always). I was paying attention to what was around me. I also noticed that my thinking calmed down and I was able to focus for longer periods of time.
- The third day was harder than the first two days. I started worrying about what I was missing. Was I missing important emails or texts? What was happening with the news? I almost cheated on Day 3 but stayed strong.
- The last day was the hardest day by far. My 10-year-old daughter Addison asked me, “What if your friends or Papa or your brother are texting you and you aren’t responding? Won’t they think you’re being rude or maybe they will think something is wrong?” I had started to worry about that too, even before Addie said that to me. After she said what I was already thinking, I started getting more anxious about what I was missing and more eager to check my texts and emails to make sure I wasn’t ignoring people who I care about. But I remained disciplined.
On the last morning, as we were readying ourselves for the trip to the airport, I checked my phone for the first time. I had hundreds of texts, emails, and other unread messages. What I found, however, was that none of them was a “national emergency.” Most weren’t that important. My friends and family were all fine, the law firm was humming along as usual, and I didn’t miss anything important. I think I made a bigger deal out of my phone that I should have.
This year, I recommend you try a digital detox, even if you only do it for a day or two. A close friend of mine has “Phone Free Sundays,” where he and his wife and kids all put up their phones on Sundays and spend the day together. He told me his kids actually look forward to those days!
Now that I’ve done a 4-day digital detox, I can see why his kids enjoy the break. My thinking was clearer and more focused, I was calmer emotionally, and I was able to do a lot of reading, thinking, and planning.
Best of all, I was “present” more than usual. I wasn’t checking social media every 30 minutes, reading the latest news from Washington, or trying to respond to every email I receive.
Looking forward to making 2019 the best year yet for our clients and friends.
Dedicated to Your Success,